All festivals and religious rituals have only one objective.
Each one of them reminds me of the One entity that is constantly present in my life everywhere, every moment and in every which way.
I sorely need this reminder because I forget Its presence most of the time.
The Arudra Darsanam festival is one such reminder gift.
Arudra Darsanam celebrates the dance of the cosmos. There is a supreme king who is doing this cosmic dance. He is called Nataraja [Nata – dance, Raja -king].
I can experience the magnitude and the majesty of His dance very easily when I see how my body dances to the beat of my heart and how my mind dances to the beat of my desires. If I open my awareness a bit more, I can see His dance in the leaves of a tree moving gently caressed by the whiff of a wind and in the sky opening up with thunderous pour to quench a parched earth. The sun, the moon, the planets and the stars all travel at break-neck speed in their orbits to the beat of His dance as do the electrons around the nucleus of an atom. A child smiles sweetly in step with His Dance but an angry man yells ferociously out of step with His Dance.
His steps are the steps of Love. When I dance in step with His Step, my dance is beautiful and elegant. My life then becomes an exhilaratingly peaceful experience. When I dance awkwardly not keeping step with His Step, I fall down and suffer. But the Cosmic Dancer doesn’t give up on me. He patiently teaches me till I learn to dance well. As a teacher, He is called Rudra.
As a dancer, He is called Nataraja. As a teacher who teaches me this dance, He is called Rudra.
The name Rudra is a powerful lesson in itself.
Rodayatiti iti rudrah – one who makes me cry is Rudra.
Rutam davayati iti rudrah – one who removes the cause of my suffering is Rudra.
Rudra does both. He makes me cry and also removes my tears.
If I want to have a safe journey while travelling in my car, I must follow the rules and regulations of the road. In the same way, to travel safely in the road of my life, I must follow certain rules and regulations in attitude, approach and actions in my living.
“Speak the truth” is one such rule. When I don’t, I lose my peace of mind and suffer. “Hurt never” is another rule. When I don’t obey it and hurt someone else or myself, I suffer. “Be loving to all under all circumstances” is another rule. Even if I do a little bit of this, I find it gives me peace of mind. Scriptures outline many such rules and regulations – both do’s and don’ts – to help me live peacefully and happily.
Some of the rules are easier to follow than others, true. But they all fundamentally boil down to one thing only – “Live in Love”. When I don’t follow this rule and instead live in selfishness, I undergo pain and pleasure, suffer and do not have peace of mind. Selfishness is not in sync with the cosmic dance. Rudra, the Cosmic teacher, points this out in the form of the suffering that He sends my way. Once I understand the root cause of my suffering, I can then wish to eliminate it. Rudra, the Cosmic teacher, then fulfills this wish and eliminates the cause of my suffering as well. The problem definition and solution are two sides of the same coin:
“Man – selfishness = God”
In the cosmic dance of my life, Rudra teaches me that selfishness is the root cause for all my sufferings. The moment I sincerely want to end my sufferings, I will sincerely want to decrease and eventually eliminate my selfishness. The moment I begin the necessary disciplines to do that, Rudra shows me the way. So I welcome Him in my life. I say “Come, Rudra.” “Come. Grant me your vision”
“Come, Rudra. Grant me your vision”. This, to me, is “Arudra Darsanam”, “Vision of Love”. [Arudra – come, Rudra. “Darsanam” – Vision]
In the sanatana dharmic calendar, the six months period corresponding to mid-July to mid-January, is the night time for the devas (the beneficial tendencies in me). The last part of this period is very conducive to have the Vision of Love. To capitalize on this facile feature, I need to do certain preparatory steps well. These preparatory steps are a series of festivals during this six months period. When celebrated with the right understanding, spirit and discipline, they purify my mind and elevate me to be a recipient of Arudra darsanam.
Every festival is a reminder to live in Love to have the vision of Love. In the examples given above:
- “Mahalaya Paksham” festival teaches me to live in contentment and gratitude
- “Navaratri” festival teaches me to develop purity and alignment in thought, word and deed. “Vijaya Dasami” festival teaches me to do that by focusing on Love.
- “Deepavali” festival teaches me to light the lamp of Love to my ten senses and mind, and live in Love.
- “Kaartikai” festival teaches me to keep good thoughts day and night, avoid bad company and keep the lamp of Love within me shining.
- “Vaikunta Ekadasi” festival teaches me to open the door to the Love within me, by controlling my senses and mind and by keeping Its constant company,
When I open the door of the Love within me, I have Its Vision and see It. Then I cry. These tears are tears of happiness and bliss. Rodayatiti iti rudrah – the One who makes you cry is Rudra. This is Arudra Darsanam.
Disciplines taught by these various festivals, when practised, purify my mind progressively and confidently. When the mind becomes pure in the constant company of Love, it reflects my Hrudayam (Seat of Love. Spiritual heart) in full glory, just as the full moon reflects the sun’s light. Cool and comforting. Hence Arudra Darsanam festival is celebrated on the full moon day in the Tamil month Margazhi when the ruling star is Arudra. [This year, it falls on December 23,2018]
Om Namo Bhagavate Rudraaya
I bow and worship Rudra, who is the constant, unchanging effulgence in all places, at all times, in all manners